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State Department Officials Say Arafat Statement in Cairo Was ‘inadequate’

A State Department official today described a statement issued by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat in Cairo last week as “inadequate” because “it calls for an end to violence only outside Israel and the occupied territories.”

The Arafat statement, delivered after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, condemned “all outside operations and all forms of terrorism” while retaining a right “to fight against the Israeli occupation in all possible ways.”

In a speech at the Council of Jewish Federations’ General Assembly meeting here, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, Roscoe Suddarth, said the Arafat declaration “is only a partial and qualified undertaking.”

“It calls for an end to violence only outside of Israel and the occupied territories,” he said. “This is inadequate, as both we and King Hussein have pointed out.”

The State Department had hitherto refrained from publicly interpreting the Arafat statement or commenting on it, beyond saying that it would have to be judged on the basis of the evolving situation on the ground.

Israel however has dismissed the declaration as an endorsement of terrorism in Israel and the occupied territories. Egyptian and PLO officials have reportedly maintained that “occupation” refers to the territories taken by Israel in 1967. However, the PLO frequently used the term “occupied” to refer to any part of mandated Palestine, including areas within the pre-1967 borders.

Since the State Department’s initial reaction to the declaration, King Hussein said in a New York Times interview that although he welcomed Arafat’s move, the PLO would eventually have to be more forthcoming in renouncing all forms of terror.

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